Label Decoder: Buying Chicken

You want to keep your family healthy and strong by serving them lean poultry, however, choosing the healthiest option for dinner can be overwhelming. Today, nutritional labels get lost in a sea of promotion labels: “all-natural,” "organic,” “free-range” and “hormone-free.” What do these terms mean? And are they essential in selecting the best chicken for your family’s dinner table? Improve your white meat wits with Dr. Oz’s label decoder.

Label Decoder: Buying Chicken

Dr. Oz decodes 4 popular, sometimes misleading, labels being applied to America’s chicken. Get the facts. Determine what’s necessary from what’s nonsense with Dr. Oz’s label decoder.


Organic Considered the gold standard of labels, chickens marked organic are grown without antibiotics and while being raised, they must have access to the outdoors. It means they can’t be genetically modified, irradiated or cloned.  

Raised Without Antibiotics Although the USDA has banned the term “antibiotic-free,” the claim that an animal has been “raised without antibiotics” implies that it has not received any antibiotics during the course of its lifetime. Buyers beware: The USDA does not verify these claims. The labels are applied at the discretion of the manufacturer.

Free-Range While this label conjures pastoral images of chickens happily pecking in green pastures, it only means that the animal has had access to an open area. The USDA allows this label to be placed on any poultry product that has had open-air access for a minimum of 5 minutes per day.

Hormone-Free The USDA prohibits the use of hormones in raising chickens. This is an established regulation. This isn’t a selling point for a particular brand – it’s a reiteration that the USDA prohibits the use of all hormones in raising poultry.

Click here to watch Dr. Oz put America’s chicken in the truth tube. Learn how chicken has changed over the years, from the farm to the family table.   

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